One of our external devs is leaving after successfully completing a short (1 month) project which he was contracted for.

I'd like to get some feedback from him by doing an exit interview to find out what could be better in our organization and development process.

What sort of questions can I ask to get detailed feedback from him, and not just vague responses?

  • Hi user, this isn't an appropriate forum for this kind of question. Perhaps the area51.stackexchange.com site might have a concept room that would be more appropriate for this type of question.
    – maple_shaft
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 12:25
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    @maple_shaft - I posted on stack overflow, and it migrated to here(don't know by who or following which rules). It surely is a programmer question, so no idea where exactly I should post it. area51 seems very wrong to me, as it is a place to create new stackoverflows.
    – user844382
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 12:31
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    I understand why it might be confusing, but it is more of a general career/interview question than a programmer question. This could apply to any professional contractor and you would get similar answers. If you have additional questions then please read the FAQ
    – maple_shaft
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 12:37
  • I guess it would be useful for people to have an answer on how to conduct exit interview in relation to developers and programmers. The question is not about career advice but more about improving processes. I believe it is in line with the faq (under development methodologies, where "improvement" is a common step in agile development methodology).
    – Spoike
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 12:41
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    @Spoike You are right that if the question was in the context of how this plays into Agile development it would be ontopic, but we can't make that assumption on how the question is worded. If I got that impression I would try to edit the question to make it more appropriate but in its current state is far too general to be salvaged.
    – maple_shaft
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 12:45

2 Answers 2


The usual general questions would work.

  • How do you think the project went?
  • Would you continue to work with the software if you were given the opportunity? If no, how so?

I'd be probing the guy with all sorts of questions using things like the Joel test as a basis for self reflection. You only need to ask the external developer on how you should deal with all the problem points or give suggestions to them. The points being:

  • How did source control work for you? Can we improve source control practices?
  • Are you happy with our build process? Are there ways to improve it?
  • Are you happy with the bug database? Did it work as intended?
  • Did the project schedule work? Was there any overtime that was unneccesary?
  • Was the spec enough? If no, what was missing?
  • Did you get a satisfiable working condition in the office.
  • Did you get all the things you needed to complete the project? Were you missing something?
  • How was your interaction with the testers? (BAs? PMs? Anyone else?)
  • What did you think of your co-workers, did you have any problem with any of them?
  • Can we improve our testing in some way?

Print out the questions as a questionare for yourself, with enough space to write between the questions. Bring it to the exit meeting as you will use it to take notes. Make sure you stress that the information you'll give will be confidential if he or she desires it. Usually, people only give up feedback under confidence.


After some thinking, it seems like people take the concept of an exit interview to a hyperbole. The OP wanted to know how to get feedback from a contractor, thus the meeting shouldn't be called an exit interview or exit meeting due to the faulty connotation; it should instead be called a "feedback" interview instead.

  • Frankly, if I am exiting, and I receive all those question, I'll just give them random answer and escape as fast as I can! You cannot fire me, and I have no (more) interest in helping you. And helping you can make you stronger against my new company. Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 13:37
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    @EmilioGaravaglia By answering these questions as such, wouldn't you look like a fool, and as an external contactor, burn the bridge that could bring future business? They might even have second thoughts about the quality of your contribution to the software.
    – tehnyit
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 13:57
  • I upvoted this answer because in my experience this is a pretty standard set of questions that I've both asked and been asked (depending on the situation) when exiting positions, regardless of whether or not the position was known to be limited term, the person chose to leave on their own accord or not, etc. Of course there are a range of responses, but more often than not the exit interview served as a valuable learning tool (on both sides). YMMV, of course.
    – jcmeloni
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 13:59
  • @tehnyit: Yes, I could. But the problem already happened: Why am I exiting and not offered to continue the cooperation? If I exit because I HAVE TO exit (contact expired and no actual new activity available for me) may be I like to keep the door opened for a future re-entrance (and may be the "exit question" are part of the job, in that case my answer doesn't apply) But if I exit because I WANTO TO exit (that was how I interpreted it) is not that important to me to keep the door opened. No more than avoiding to provide un-payed consulence. Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 14:33
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    In case of the OP, the external dev was hired for a month, which is very common in the consulting/contracting business. Nothing wrong with quitting here, so OP wanted to ask the external dev for some feedback. This is not about some regular dude who quit his job.
    – Spoike
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 14:49

"what would you ask someone in this kind of situation?"

Absolutely nothing. I'll just say "good luck".

  • If he's exiting he may have no more interest in helping you (so he will rarely give you really meaningful answers)
  • It is not necessarily because something was wrong in you. My be he's just searching form something different that may be not in your business.

If you really want to improve your process, monitor the "massive escapes", and try guess where did they go. And try to learn how other are organized using informal relational networks, not formal process.


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